Bone Density Scan (DEXA)

Age and lifestyle factors can make it increasingly important to measure the density of your bones.
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Age and lifestyle factors can make it increasingly important to measure the density of your bones. Bones can weaken due to a variety of factors, and your bone density can be crucial information for your provider. Bone density is measured using state-of-the-art equipment called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The procedure is painless and relatively quick (taking only 20 to 30 minutes) and can help determine if you have osteoporosis, or low bone mass. By knowing the results, your provider can help find ways to slow, or in some cases even reverse the effects of your condition. Stevens Point Orthopedics is pleased to provide DEXA to our patients, giving us the opportunity to better serve you.

Who Should Be Tested?

Bone density scanning is recommended for all women over the age of 65, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. This is because women over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for osteoporosis, a condition that causes bone density to decrease, making bones fragile and prone to fracture. It is also recommended for men over the age of 70 and individuals with osteoporosis risk factors which include but are not limited to previous fractures, cigarette use, certain medications and low body weight.


DEXA is a sophisticated form of X-ray technology that provides a more accurate measure of bone mineral density (BMD) than a traditional X-ray. With DEXA, there is a very low level of radiation exposure – less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest X-ray. The results of a DEXA scan allows providers to diagnose osteoporosis much sooner than with other tests. DEXA scans can also be used in individuals who are undergoing treatment for osteoporosis to determine if their treatment plan is effective.

Preparing for the exam requires no changes to diet. Calcium supplements, including Tums and multi-vitamins, should not be taken for 24 hours prior to your test. On the day of the exam, you may eat normally. If a contrast material was recently used for a procedure such as an MRI or CT scan, you should wait five to seven days before having a DEXA scan. It is also very important that pregnant women let their provider know before undergoing the scan.

A specially trained provider will review your DEXA scans. They will give the results to your provider who will share them with you and recommend a personalized treatment plan.

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